The year, 2021 was a challenging year for OPEC+ as prices began to recover, presenting a temptation that has always been difficult to resist.
OPEC+ exercised restraint, however, refusing to open the taps even as energy prices skyrocketed across the globe.
As the world races towards a greener tomorrow, OPEC+ officials have noted that the energy transition, if not managed well, could lead to underinvestment in oil and gas, which could mean even higher prices.
OPEC+ did some surprising things in the past two years. First, it broke up at the start of the pandemic with its two leaders—Saudi Arabia and Russia—turning on each other because of differences of opinion on how the crisis needed to be handled. Then the two made up, and the group united around the deepest production cuts in the history of OPEC in response to the demand destruction caused by the pandemic, also unprecedented.
All in all, 2020 was a year of unprecedented events.
But this year was not that much different. It was a challenging one for OPEC+ as prices began to recover, presenting a temptation that has always been difficult to resist, especially for the most oil-dependent economies in the Gulf and Africa. And yet resist they did, sticking to a production increase plan seen adding 400,000 bpd in combined oil production every month.
This plan is still in action, at least until January, when OPEC+ may reconsider as some analysts warn of looming oil oversupply. OPEC’s analysts are not among these—the cartel expects a mild and temporary effect on demand from the omicron variant of the coronavirus. But the cartel has proved in the past two years that it could be cautious.
Bloomberg’s Julian Lee earlier this weekreminded us that ever since its inception, the extended OPEC+ cartel has had its work cut out for it. From the very beginning, when members decided to reduce production in response to the U.S. shale boom, to this year, when they had to be flexible with production amid wave after wave of Covid-19 infections, it’s been a challenging five years for OPEC+.
The challenging nature of the cooperation was only to be expected given the often different priorities of member states. And yet it somehow worked, even with bumps along the road such as Iraq’s inability to stick to its production quotas, for which it had to be “punished” by getting additional cut quotas. And this may well have made the group more resilient to any future shocks.
According to analysts, the first challenge would be excess supply. It would not be much of a challenge, however, as it is seen as temporary, only until the omicron wave passes, and assuming it would be as bad as previous waves, which is a bit unlikely for a very pragmatic reason: most governments cannot afford another long lockdown.
A much bigger challenge, as noted by oil industry observers and OPEC members, is dwindling spare production supply. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, OPEC’s spare capacity could fall to 5.11 million bpd in the final quarter of next year. This is down from 9 million bpd in the first quarter of 2021.
The Energy Information Administration defines spare oil production capacity as oil production that can be started within 30 days and sustained for at least 90 days. The International Energy Agency defines spare capacity as production that can be cranked up in 90 days.
Whatever the definition, the world’s spare oil production capacity is falling because it is not a static pool of oil. Oil reservoirs that are not exploited tend to diminish in resources—one big reason why so many oil producers were reluctant to start plugging wells when the pandemic killed demand. Once you plug a well, it may or may not return to full or any production.
Speaking of plugging wells, these may well be part of the reason Russia is now near its capacity of producing oil, and it’s a much lower level than before the pandemic. Before, Russia was pumping north of 11 million bpd.
Now, according to a Reuters report citing Russian oil companies, total output is nearing capacity at 10.9 million bpd, even though Deputy PM Alexander Novak has argued Russia’s oil production will rebound to 11.33 million bpd by May.
Most of the spare capacity, therefore, will be in OPEC, and more precisely, in the Middle East. But even that spare capacity needs maintenance, and maintenance means investment. And investments in oil production are getting harder to come by these days.
“We’re heading toward a phase that could be dangerous if there’s not enough spending on energy,” Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said earlier this month. The sentiment was echoed by Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan: “We have very serious concerns that the world could run short of energy if we are not careful in managing the transition.”
It’s not just the Saudis that are warning about underinvestment, either. IHS Markit’s Daniel Yergin said the world is painting itself into a corner featuring a series of energy crunches because of insufficient investment in oil and gas. And it’s public knowledge that U.S. oil companies are prioritizing returning cash to investors rather than production growth while Big Oil is pouring billions in low-carbon energy to clean up its reputation.
What all this means is that the world may be in for a few more tough years in terms of energy security, especially parts of it. OPEC+, on the other hand, may be in for some more windfall profits as the supply of oil remains tight for purely fundamental reasons. Of course, there is always the possibility of another demand destruction event in case the pandemic continues to surprise us, but OPEC+ has already been there and has done that. It will survive and maybe even become stronger.
By: Irina Slav
Slav reports for Oilprice.com
Illegal Bunkering: NSCDC Returns Diverted 50,000 Litres PMS
The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NCDC) says it has returned the 50,000 litres of premium motor spirits hitherto diverted to neighbouring Imo State, back to the original intended destination.
Recall that NSCDC in Rivers State last week announced the arrest of two suspects over attempted diversion of petroleum products to neighbouring states without appropriate licence.
Preliminary investigation, according to NSCDC, showed that the product’s waybill, which was loaded at Conoil Depot in Port Harcourt, stated that the product should be delivered at Omo Wealth in Ikwerre Local Government, but the suspects claimed the waybill was written in error, hence the diversion of the product to Imo State.
Speaking, Rivers State Commandant of NSCDC, Abu Abdu Tambuwal, said the Corps has returned the product to Omo Wealth Filling Station at Ikwerre Local Government Area of the State, as indicated in the waybill when the product was apprehended while being diverted.
Tambuwal stated that the overall cooperation of every stakeholder was very pertinent if illegal oil bunkering activities would be put to a stop.
“The diverted 50,000 litres of Premium Motor Spirit impounded by the anti-vandal border patrol team has been returned to Omo Wealth Filling Station, at Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State as indicated on the Waybill at the point of arrest.
“The community dwellers expressed their joy as such pragmatic step taken would prevent long queue of vehicles at the filing stations as it is being experienced currently in some States of the Federation”, he said.
Tambuwal also stated that the Command’s anti-vandal squad has been further directed to increase its operational efficiency by arresting those dealing illegally in petroleum products on waterways, border areas and illegal refineries.
“The Anti-vandal Squad has been ordered to carry out massive arrests and dismantle oil bunkering dump sites across the State and this we will do without compromise or prejudice.
“Therefore, my candid advice is that all perpetrators of illegal dealings in petroleum products must engage themselves in legitimate businesses or risk being arrested and prosecuted according to the provisions of the laws of the federation”, he concluded.
Schneider Electric Plans Managed Power Services
Schneider Electric has identified Managed Power Services as the next big thing in the power sector.
This is coming at a time when the leader in energy management automation encouraged its partners, professionals and end users to take advantage of the next wave of growth opportunity in the power sector.
Speaking at a recent media parley, Oluwaseun Oloyede, Secure Power Leader for Anglophone West Africa, APC by Schneider Electric, emphasised the need for its partners and IT professionals to be well positioned in order to take advantage of this growth opportunity.
He added that it was normal to see innovations in the sector because “if a business isn’t growing, its likely on its way to extinction”, he said, adding that IT solution providers require continuous investment in new technology and service opportunities to stay on a growth path.
“Moreso, research has shown that edge computing delivers a robust opportunity for IT solution providers with projected spending to reach $250.6 billion by 2024.
“With IT professionals looking for help on monitoring and management of these sites, there are only 27% of Managed Service Providers (MSPs) who offer managed power services today. As such, now is the time for solution providers to expand their portfolio,” Oluwaseun stated.
He added that seasoned MSPs know that adding a new service practice requires thoughtful planning, execution, and reliable vendor partnerships. Between implementing platforms and tools, training staff, and identifying clients for the services, building a new practice takes as many as 3,500 non-revenue-generating staff hours.
MPS represent a new opportunity for service providers and partners to address asset management of UPS’s and physical infrastructure, such as monitoring of alarms and resolving potential faults increases reliability across the asset’s life cycle.
“Based on our calculations, the addition of Managed Power Services adds 1.5-times additional revenue over the lifecycle of the asset compared to traditional hardware.
Firm Targets Take Over Of Moribund NNPC Pipelines
An indigenous Engineering Procurement and Contract (EPC) company, Oilserv Limited, says it plans to bid for all moribund Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited pipeline distribution systems to ease products distribution chain.
Group Chairman, Oilserv Limited, Mr Emeka Okwuosa told newsmen on the sidelines of the just concluded Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, Texas, United States.
He said that Frazimex Engineering Ltd., a subsidiary of Oilserv, had submitted a tender to NNPC in this regard.
Oilserv Group is the company handling the $2.8 billion Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano gas pipeline project.
“As we speak today, one of our companies is working closely with NNPC.
“There is a tender going on how to correct the moribund distribution systems for petroleum products distribution. We see them all over Nigeria. They are not functional.
“But we want to buy them over, rebuild them and make energy available, instead of having people transport petrol and diesel from Port Harcourt to Makurdi, for example. Does it make any sense?
“There is a pipeline built many years ago but, really, it is not there anymore because it has been damaged and not maintained. We are also addressing that. We’ve also gone into renewables,” he said.
Okwuosa said that the company was working to build gas networks, built locally, and then operate.
“That means that we are already trying to address the issue of energy availability within our group,” he said.
On agriculture, Okwuosa, said that one of the Oilserv subsidiaries, Ekcel Farms Ltd. was involved in agriculture and products processing.
He said: “We have our primary feeds – cassava and tomato. We are trying to develop cassava at the moment.
“Part of the reasons for this is not to only provide for the teeming population of Nigeria but also provide products or feeds that can be used in pharmaceuticals, in the other food industries.
“What that means is that it helps us to balance our footprints in the energy industry because one of the aspects of our foray into agriculture is to be able to generate power that we use from agriculture by using biomass and biogas, taking the waste and then converting it to energy.
“That again helps us to address our carbon footprints as a country.
“Having said that, if you look at the energy sector around the world, particularly oil and gas, you will see a lot of discussions going on,” he said.
On energy transition strategy, the Oilserv boss said the company has a clear energy transition strategy.
“Apart from developing it, we sensitise people about it and review it regularly.
“We’ve also gone into renewables. We are not, at this point, developed in renewables. But we have a partnership with a German company to address the renewables, solar or whatever.
“We are more concerned about how we can utilise the principle of both green and blue hydrogen.
“We want to be able to generate power without having to damage the environment. So, we are already moving into that sector.
“But going into the new phase of energy delivery takes a lot of time to plan, a lot of investments. And like I said, if you look at Nigeria, we also have some issues,” he said.
Okwuosa said most of the countries in the world that have developed and still developing have frameworks to encourage these developments.
“By way of tax rebate, addressing price issues to make sure that entry points, in terms of costs for these alternatives, will not be too high.
“Unfortunately, we don’t see any articulated situation like that in Nigeria. What that means is that there is really no encouragement for any investor to come into that as a business because he cannot compete today in terms of pricing with fossil fuels.
“But we cannot give up, it’s about engaging the government, it’s about pushing because we have no choice. If we don’t, the train will keep moving and we’ll get to a point where our oil is there but we cannot produce.
“It is our duty as a country to make sure we can refine the crude oil we use. We can do that. Nigeria’s utilisation is high enough to actually absorb about a third of our production “ he said.
Bridging infrastructure deficit, Okwuosa, said that the Federal Government had done quite a lot of things for which it has not been given credit.
“When President Muhammadu Buhari came into power, the AKK pipeline was already under discussion since 2009, it was never moved anywhere.
“But within three months of coming into power, Buhari brought the issue up and said it must be done.
“Buhari government gives us the support to navigate that process, especially the funding. The government has been determined to ensure the Nigeria Gas Master Plan is fully executed because of its impact.
“That is why we are talking about the pipeline to Ajaokuta, which is the last interlink. So, I give them credit for that.
“There are quite a number of programmes the NNPC has initiated, like the seven gas programmes we have. The Train 7 NLNG is ongoing as we speak.
“A lot has happened. That is why I keep saying that gas is the mainstay of our transition. If we get gas right, it would be easier for us to transition into renewables.
“The Nigerian government has done a lot. But, as a developing country, you know we are struggling with so many things for now.
“It is about focusing on what matters the most. The government has done a lot, but there is room for more. It needs to make it possible that there is an enabling environment for investors who are interested in the renewables,” he said.
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